Unwanted Advances - Red Backed Wrens During Mating Season


Malchi, Australia

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 7

Artist's Description

This is an old shot, taken back in 2006 at Milman in Central Queensland, Australia. The image certainly isn’t great technically, as I didn’t have the focal length needed to get real close to these shy birds. I spent a number of days trying to stay quiet and as unobtrusive as possible, but could never get quite close enough with my 300mm lens. However in this shot, I think I’ve caught the character of these two.

Two males had been competing for the attention of this female (the one to right of picture) and I think she may have preferred the other suitor. Maybe this one just didn’t have enough ‘zing’ in his plumage.

The Birds:

The Red-backed Fairywren (Malurus melanocephalus) is a species of passerine bird in the Maluridae family. It is endemic to Australia and can be found near rivers and coastal areas along the northern and eastern coastlines from the Kimberley in the northwest to the Hunter Region in New South Wales. Like other fairywrens, this species displays marked sexual dimorphism. The male adopts a striking breeding plumage, with a black head and upperparts and tail, and brightly coloured red back and brown wings. The female has brownish upperparts and paler underparts. The male in eclipse plumage and the juvenile resemble the female. Some males remain in non-breeding plumage while breeding. Two subspecies are recognised; the nominate form melanocephalus of eastern Australia has a longer tail and orange back, and the short-tailed form cruentatus from northern Australia has a redder back.
The Red-backed Fairywren mainly eats insects, and supplements its diet with seed and small fruit. The preferred habitat is heathland and savannah, particularly where low shrubs and tall grasses provide cover. It can be nomadic in areas where there are frequent bushfires, although pairs or small groups of birds maintain and defend territories year-round in other parts of its range. Groups consist of a socially monogamous pair with one or more helper birds who assist in raising the young. These helpers are progeny that have attained sexual maturity yet remain with the family group for one or more years after fledging. The Red-backed Fairywren is sexually promiscuous, and each partner may mate with other individuals and even assist in raising the young from such pairings. Older males in breeding plumage are more likely to engage in this behaviour than are those breeding in eclipse plumage. As part of a courtship display, the male wren plucks red petals from flowers and displays them to females.

From Wikipedia – Red-Backed Fairy Wren

Image Details:

Model – DYNAX 5D
ExposureTime – 1/640 seconds
FNumber – 6.30
DateTimeOriginal – 2006:08:12 10:37:01
FocalLength – 300.00 mm
FocalLengthIn35mmFilm – 450 mm

Artwork Comments

  • Phillip Weyers
  • Gryphonn
  • inAWE
  • inAWE
  • Gryphonn
  • Gryphonn
  • inAWE
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